A massive community search is over, after police found the body of a second Virginia State University student in the Appomattox River.
The two victims – both 19-year-old freshmen – apparently drowned during what police are calling a hazing ritual.
Four men, ranging in age from 19 to 35, are charged with hazing after seven Virginia State University students attempted to cross the Appomattox River just after midnight Saturday.
“The current swept the students down river. Some were pulled to safety, and others drifted to shore. Two students, Marvell Edmonson and Jauwan Holmes, were reported missing," said Police Lieutenant Randy Horowitz of Chesterfield County.
Edmonson was a popular high school football player from Portsmouth. His body was found Monday, and more than a hundred of police, firefighters and local volunteers continued to search for Holmes, who attended high school and ran track in Williamsburg.
The boys were apparently hoping to join a social group called Men of Honor – its mission, to build character.
The University says it was not a sanctioned student organization, and spokesman Thomas Reed says VSU has tried to discourage hazing of any kind. “Fraternities and sororities and all of our student organizations undergo between eight and ten hours of training every semester – that’s not year, it’s per semester on code of conduct and the standards we expect from our student organization," said Reed.
Because the river is on its southern boundary, the university says students do sometimes wade or swim in the Appomattox, but Reed says conditions over the weekend were treacherous.
If convicted, the four suspects – two of them VSU students --could face a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. The university plans a memorial service for Edmonson and Holmes on Friday and is offering counseling to students.